Smith River Complex Passes 70,000 Acres as Containment Hits 6%

Firefighters have been communizing work to contain the Smith River Complex fires, which have now engulfed approximately 70,620 acres of land. As of the latest update, containment stands at 6%, with a total of 2,661 personnel, including 66 crews, 5 helicopters, 213 engines, 28 dozers, and 22 water tenders, engaged in firefighting efforts.

On Saturday evening, the night shift firefighters initiated tactical firing operations along fire lines in close proximity to Gilligan Butte. This crucial procedure involves burning vegetation between the fire line and the advancing blaze, an important step towards securing the area. The night shift team successfully executed firing activities to the west of Gilligan Butte, extending towards the 4402 Road.

Sunday’s day shift continued the firing operations along the primary containment line situated on the south and southwest side of Gilligan Butte, with progress extending to the 4402 Road. Presently, firefighters are replicating these efforts along the 4402 Road’s southern stretch. By doing so, they aim to minimize fire spread that could potentially threaten residences in the southern Illinois Valley. Substantial mop-up work will be required to ensure that these containment lines are fully secure.

Unfortunately, ongoing smoky conditions have hindered aerial firefighting operations. Throughout the day, visibility remained at a mere quarter mile, rendering aerial endeavors unsafe. Ground-based firefighters also encountered challenges due to reduced visibility. The weather forecast predicts prevailing northward winds for the next few days, potentially pushing smoke southward. However, the influence of smoke from other fires in the Pacific Northwest is likely to impede operations across the Smith River Complex North.

The protection of local communities and isolated structures around O’Brien and Takilma, as well as along Lone Mountain Road, remains a top priority for the firefighting teams.

Current Josephine County Evacuation Notices:

  • A Level 3 – GO NOW evacuation order remains in effect for the Hwy 199 area south of O’Brien, encompassing milepost 38 to the state line.
  • A Level 2 – GET SET evacuation advisory has been issued for O’Brien and the Takilma area.
  • A Level 1 – GET READY evacuation advisory is in place, extending northwards to Cave Junction.

For those impacted by the evacuation orders, the American Red Cross has established an evacuation shelter at Rogue Community College in Grants Pass. Additionally, the Josephine County Fairgrounds are available for sheltering livestock.

Firefighters and emergency responders continue to dedicate their efforts to safeguarding the affected communities and mitigating the Smith River Complex fires. Further updates will be provided as the situation evolves.

You can track these fires through our 2023 Wildfire Season partner’s Wildfire Aware app.

Source: NWIMT13

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